CITY ON A HILL

@ByHaleyBrown

@ByHaleyBrown

IT ALL STARTED WHEN…

I heard this message about being a “City On a Hill,” multiple times but I never thought it would apply to me. I didn't feel as if I reflected anything that would be inspiring enough to draw people to God or that I set an example for anyone to walk in God’s will. This was true until this December when God proved to me that he uses even the most broken humans to be “... the light of the world. A city set on a hill...”  (Matthew 5:14 ASV). 

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.
— Matthew 5:14
@byHaleyBrown

@byHaleyBrown

Let me give you a little background, so you understand the magnitude of his power and his sense of humor. I am one of seven or eight children ( I say “or” because we aren’t 100% about one ). Here’s the breakdown: three of us are full siblings, one is an older half-sister that we were raised with, one is a possible older half-sister that we just found out about not too long ago. The other three have been conceived outside my parents' marriage WHILE being married. One of these three I actually have a relationship with and has become part of the family. This is all thanks to my amazingly forgiving mother who set an awesome example of God’s forgiveness, which I personally did not inherit. Forgiveness was hard for me. It took me more than half of my life to forgive a lot of the hurt caused by the dysfunction of my family.

Moving on to, my first heartbreak. It came from my dad at the age of 10, followed by a guy at the age of 15 and then the heartbreaks continued every time I saw my mom hurt. Over and over again I felt the pain of caring for someone only to see them hurt or disappointed by a loved one.  Not just any loved one, but my most valued humans, the two people that conceived me. Then at the age of 18, it all stopped. I didn't feel much I had one emotion left anger. I was consumed by anger and was numb to everything else. I learned to hate. The pain that came with love was just too much for me.

I dated, but it never meant anything because I never trusted anyone. I hung out with mostly guys because I found girls to be fake or backstabbing and I didn’t have time for any extra pain. In college, I observed how guys viewed and treated girls. I came to understand that to so many men, women were disposable, this hardened my heart even more. I saw no point to relationships. Caring for anyone’s feelings and even the word marriage was a joke to me. This was a big disappointment for my mom. 

Can you believe that? You would think my mom would advise me to do the complete opposite of her considering the pain she went through. Instead, she was always trying to talk me into making her same mistake, trusting someone with your heart.  My answer was always “NO” and I knew it pained her, but at this point… what was one more pain in her life?

I know I was an awful person to anyone I dated. I was not entirely in touch with my emotions and I had trust issues. On the bright side, my dating number was pretty low. I had a total of three relationships, two of which happened after my disconnect. Only one of those two was long enough to be considered serious. Looking back, I truly am sorry for any pain I caused.

I was also shaped by my fear to grow roots anywhere. I moved at the age of eight from my home country, Honduras. Then after five years in the USA, my parents decided to move us back to Honduras, and after a year we moved back to the USA, again. I saw no point in making long-term friends. I moved countries THREE times making it impossible to keep friends that young, especially without a phone across so many borders. It hurt the first two times, but after that, I was only interested in getting along with people. I am not sure if anyone could say that they were my best friend, between middle school right up to my first year of college. Now come to think about it, it was kind of lonely. 

@whitneymariephotography

@whitneymariephotography

All these events created a person that I couldn't see being a light to anyone in the world. However, God didn’t forget me, he had a plan. In college, I gave dating another chance. After six and a half years of dating someone who broke through those thick walls, someone who made me feel like I had roots, the person who stuck it out through the bad and the ugly.  Side note: I also had to get outside help. I had to get a lot of therapy to work through some of my demons. But the after six and a half years of this work… I was ENGAGED! Woot Woot!

However, life was not going to let me off so easy. While I was wrapping my brain around the fact that I was going to be married, every fear I had as a child started to come back up. Just when life seemed like it was going to change for me, my parents filed for divorce. They talked about doing it multiple times, but never followed through. Then after their 27th anniversary, they officially decided to proceed with the divorce papers. I know, talk about a punch to the gut, but my God is faithful because behind the scenes he had been creating something new. I didn’t see it during the time, but piece by piece he was fulfilling his plan. It started in college, when I started to find a relationship with God and I had not notice how much he had already changed who I was. The day I got to see the results of getting closer to him, was the day I realized why God asks us to forgive. 

@ByHaleyBrown

@ByHaleyBrown

What my parents went through and what I went through was not going to affect me and Ameer's story. If God had gotten me to this point, then he had a plan for us, and he had always come through. As things got hard again, I pressed into God and I was able to let go of the pain by forgiving my parents for all the pain they caused me. I decided that I was not going to let their issues diminish the gift God was giving me. 

 Then there it was, I understood forgiveness. God opened my eyes to see that he wants us to forgive them because it sets us free and it’s for our own good. Forgiveness doesn't erase the hurt or justify it. By forgiving someone, you take power away from that pain that holds you hostage. Forgiveness liberates us, it sets us free. It did for me.

When it came to our engagement, the wedding, and all the other festivities, my parents, believe it or not, were the most supportive I have ever seen them. My dad came through like the dad I had before my heartbreak. My parents didn’t fight and kept things civil for my sanity. They showed Ameer so much love and support, which made me love them even more. They did things to keep Ameer at peace and supported anything I decided on, even when it wasn’t exactly what they wanted. They were amazing and this was a major highlight of my wedding. All of these things helped me heal so many wounds I didn’t know still existed.

@ByHaleyBrown

@ByHaleyBrown

December 15, 2018 was a blur. To be honest, that whole week before our wedding was a blur. We worked our regular jobs, signed on our house, moved in, and got married all in the same week. HAHAHAHA… I know, if you’re imagining this insanely hectic almost impossible week, that’s exactly how it was. But between all the madness, there were two moments that will forever be in my heart. The first one is obvious, the moment we got to say our vows before God along with so many loved ones, to officially becoming Mrs. Saleh. The other one happened right before the ceremony on the day of our wedding. A very special friend of ours came to see me before I walked down the aisle. He asked to talk to me privately and began to tell me about how proud of us he was. He said that we were breaking the mold and setting an example for our group of friends. He told me he loved me and Ameer and that no matter where life takes us, he will always be there. I have to say, even as I type this up, it makes my eyes water. Khairy and I have known each other since the 5th grade which is as long as I’ve known Ameer (my new husband ;) ). This moment meant the world to me because it came from a dear friend who actually knew us and everything it took to get to this moment.

@ByHaleyBrown

@ByHaleyBrown

Today as I sit on our 10-hour flight back from our honeymoon, God brought the words “City on a Hill” to my heart and it all made sense. We happened to read this verse during our honeymoon, and it finally meant something to me, it finally applied to me. It's nothing we did, it was all meant to happen in order for us to touch the people God had placed in our paths. We are blessed to bless others.

I feel so lucky that I was blessed in an area I was so broken in. I guess God is funny like that, he uses the least expected, to show the magnitude of his power to us. We wouldn’t believe it otherwise. I know for sure I wouldn’t have believed it otherwise.

Now I pray that our marriage and our individual lives are a city on a hill that cannot be hidden and that we always bring light to those around us. 

@ByHaleyBrown

@ByHaleyBrown

With Love + By Grace,

Mrs. Saleh... Jk jk Nimia ❤️